Hotel Boomtown

How to Have a Night on the Town—with Help from C. Baldwin

One of downtown’s newest hotels carries an old name.

By Morgan Kinney December 27, 2019 Published in the January 2020 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Finn Hall is right across the street.

Downtown’s C. Baldwin Hotel, named for the “Mother of Houston,” Charlotte Baldwin Allen, prides itself on righting certain historical wrongs. Even today few know it was her fortune that allowed the Allen Brothers to establish their shabby encampment on the banks of our muddy river back in 1836. And it’s her namesake hotel—a luxurious, midcentury refurb of the old downtown DoubleTree—whose upper-floor suites offer some of the best vistas of our dear metropolis. What’s the best way to honor her legacy? We reckon it’s a day spent reveling in the wonders of the bustling downtown she had a hand in starting.


Lunch at Finn Hall

Dawdle until check-in at debatably the most versatile and definitely the most art-deco of the new crop of downtown food halls. Disparate smells alert you to your plentiful options: hush puppies from Low Tide, bulgogi from Yong, carnitas from Goode Co. Taqueria, and plenty more from seven other Houston establishments (we recommend constructing your own sampler). Afterward consider heading upstairs to the Swallow’s Nest for a 713 G&T to wash it all down. You’re on staycation, right? 712 Main St.

1 p.m.

Sam Houston Park

Take a guided tour at The Heritage Society, where 10 historic buildings dating from Houston’s earliest days through 1905 roost within Sam Houston Park, right in the shadow of the C. Baldwin across the street.

The striking lobby at C. Baldwin.

3 p.m.

Check-in at C. Baldwin

Walk inside, and soon a parade of you-go-girl Instagram affirmations welcomes you to the lofty lobby space for check-in. Head upstairs and enjoy a moment’s rest on the room’s velour chaise longue. It’s the perfect place to observe the lush bayou vistas unfolding before your window.

Lobby Bar from above.

4 p.m.

Drinks at Lobby Bar

Back downstairs slide into a booth under the luminous constellation of the colossal bubble chandelier at the hotel’s stunning bar, all midcentury charm with light wood, brass accents, and massive palms. It’s the perfect backdrop for enjoying a cheeky drink like Lucille’s Melon Ball, a tequila-Aperol concoction brightened with a touch of cantaloupe water.

6 p.m.

Dinner at Rosalie Italian Soul

Plan ahead if you want a primetime reservation at this buzzy new showpiece from Top Chef winner Chris Cosentino. Tropical foliage makes for a lush ambience in the dining room, where servers present tables with massive New Haven–style wood-fired pizzas and rigatoni crowned with fried eggs, along with bottles of reasonably priced yet impressive wines, like a Joel Gott Rosé for $45. Chase it with tiramisu, if you have room.

Try a wood-fired pizza at Rosalie Italian Soul.

8 p.m.

A show!

Head to the Alley All-New Festival, which presents a range of new works January 16–26. Or there’s Branford Marsalis on January 25 at the Wortham Center. Or Houston Grand Opera’s La favorite, also at the Wortham, starting January 24. You’re downtown—there’s an entire Theater District (and beyond) full of wondrous options to choose from.

The You Look at Me Once, You Look at Me Twice at Cottonmouth.

Image: Quy Tran

10 p.m.

A nightcap at the Cottonmouth Club

Keep the show going at this underrated Main Street gem devoted to music’s legendary heroes (and antiheroes) from Prince to Alice Cooper to Mötley Crüe. The drink called You Look at Me Once, You Look at Me Twice— made with Lucid Absinthe—is the perfect nightcap to the evening. If you’re lucky, they’ll be serving Frito pie.


Return to C. Baldwin

Collapse into bed after an action-packed day.

9 a.m.

Room service?

Don’t you dare pull back those blackout curtains. Check the fridge hidden in the room’s TV console for any leftover breakfast rigatoni stashed away. If none is to be found, dial down to order some fresh breakfast pastries and a cup of coffee. Checkout is still hours away, after all…

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